Interview: Two Feet’s Zachary Dess Dives into Heartfelt Debut Album ‘Pink’

Two Feet © Republic Records
Two Feet’s Zachary Dess dives into his debut album ‘Pink’, a heartfelt, edgy and arduous opus for his own emotional journey through love, lust and despair, self-awareness and hope.
Stream: ‘Pink’ – Two Feet

 




Zachary Dess, a.k.a Two Feet, is no stranger to creating unique, chilled, yet bass-heavy tracks that soar into mainstream circles due to their catchiness, real life relatability, bleak and edgy tones, and elite production value. Over the past months, the singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist has been teasing and releasing singles off his debut, full-length record Pink, and to fans’ delight, he just released the full project.

Out March 13, 2020 via Republic Records, Pink runs thirteen tracks in length and is a stunning, emotional effort from start to finish, painting images of loss, grief, heartbreak and acceptance. Beginning with “Intro,” a short introductory piece with thick analog bass sounds and a tense buildup that drops into Dess’ signature gritty guitar melodies and heavy bass drums, the tone is quickly established for the rest of the album.

Pink - Two Feet

Pink – Two Feet

‘Cause I still think about the old days
In the city with my own fate
Twenty-five, don’t feel the same way
The streets keep changing names
We all spent time now at your mom’s place
On the West Side in the fall haze
All of our stories went the same way
When we had time to waste
And I think that I’m falling
I’m tripping and I’m crawling
It feels like rather often
The years do come to pass
And I keep getting older
My mind is getting colder
The things that all once mattered
I know for sure won’t last

The sultry singer then moves on to title track “Pink,” bringing airy vocals, flying guitar solos and vocal chops with lyrics that detail the artist’s worries of getting older and hitting age 25. Keeping the fast paced theme, he brings us to “BBY“, which throws in deep, reverberating, cinematic breakdowns and some intriguing production, allowing for some stylistic breathing room and artistic variety. It poses a question to the person the song is about, asking her to communicate what she wants and needs from him.



Call Me, I Still Love You” comes in as a guitar-spoken interlude, expressing similarly morose sentiments of what feels like pain and insecure worry. Speaking through soaring melodies, we see a continuation of the theme of failing love as the persona sings about a woman he’s still in love with in “You.” In keeping with his artistic change-ups, a massive slow-dance triplet section occurs at the end of the track, conjuring an esoteric image of a couple slow dancing a doomed dance for love. Almost as an add-on to “You”, “44 Lies” comes in to iterate, “wherever you go, wherever you need me,” repeated many times throughout the track in an unapologetic display of romance. Soon after though, Dess appears to admit defeat in “Lost the Game,” with heavy, declarative snares and somber tones throughout, saying his “mind is collapsing” and that he “can’t get lower.”

The mood continues to dim in “Grey,” as groovy percussions and wide bass lines push audiences further down into Two Feet’s dark mental abyss. While the music stays dark and edgy as ever, the song’s lyricism seems to err on the more positive side, claiming, “It’s ok, it’s alright” over and over again. This perhaps hints toward an acceptance of what’s occurred and what is to come in this confused love tango, or perhaps signals a denial and unwillingness to admit the truth.




Two Feet’s lyrics arguably become darkest in subsequent track “Maria,” as he asks this proverbial woman why he wasn’t good enough, going through a bitter mosaic of insecurities that have come from the failed love. It’s both a call-out track and a despairing request for clarity, as the persona endlessly tells Maria that he needs her, all the while accepting the reality that he can’t have her.

You let your hair down
A night on the town
You’re headed out now
He’s got a nice face
Your mind starts to race
Go back to his place
And oh, oh, oh I don’t want to think it through
‘Cause there’s nothing I can do tonight
And oh, oh, oh while you’re getting in his bed
I’m alone without a friend tonight
Maria, Maria
I tell ya I need ya
Maria, Maria
I tell ya I need ya
– “Maria,” Two Feet

After seemingly going through all the stages of grief in detail before gradually reaching a point of acceptance, Two Feet guides us into “felt like playing guitar and not singing part two,” a fast and fun beat with his signature 808 drums, dark bass lines, and bluesy guitar riffs. It’s perhaps a mental indication that Dess is finally ready, or at least willing, to move on. It’s also a certifiable bop.

Two Feet © Republic Records

Two Feet © Republic Records



Nearing the end of this musical journey, “I Can’t Relate” brings a hint of calm acceptance and slights of possibility through soft chordal arpeggiations. Abandoning the usual heavy drums and bass-fueled production, the track feels like a very important and poignant moment it the album, signaling a possible readiness for mental escape. “We Will Be Alright” serves as a similar ode to lost memories, a continuation in the direction of a more uplifting mood, or perhaps one of nostalgia and recovery from the pain of love. Once again, the production deliberately avoids heavy percussion and bass treatment, and instead keeps an atmosphere of peace created through cruise-y guitar rhythms placed at the forefront of the mix.

As an outro to his work, Two Feet finishes with “Pink Reprise,” an inspired and emotionally charged reprieve and a summary of the Pink album in its entirety.

In totality, the work stands as a heartfelt, edgy and arduous opus for Two Feet’s emotional journey, exploring a range of ideas from love, lust, and despair, to self-awareness and hope.

“With the way the world is going right now, I hope listening to it gives you some peace, or makes you cry, or makes you feel sexy, or makes you happy, or briefly brings you to a different world,” Two Feet recently wrote, addressing fans in a social media statement. “As long as you feel SOMETHING I’m good with that. I worked hard on the track list. This isn’t an album of singles, it’s a “thing-in-itself.” Please listen in order. Front to back.”

Pink is available for streaming worldwide. Dive deeper into Two Feet’s debut album in our exclusive interview below!

You can take inspiration or some influence from modern music, but just be yourself and make whatever you want to hear.

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:: stream/purchase Pink here ::



A CONVERSATION WITH TWO FEET

Atwood Magazine: So, I’ve seen from your socials that you’re doing quite a few shows at the moment around Europe, how has that been going?

Two Feet: Very good, they’re the biggest shows I’ve ever done in Europe so far; everything was sold out months in advance and they’re a lot of fun.

That’s awesome! What was the most recent show that you performed?

Two Feet: The most recent one was in Berlin at Kesselhaus, really crazy venue with an awesome sound system, and the crowd was super interactive!

Do you have like a favorite city or country to perform in or do you enjoy it all across the board?

Two Feet: Honestly it doesn’t really matter, a show is a show no matter where you play, it all depends on the crowd.

So you recently put out a song with UPSAHL which actually I first heard on TikTok, it’s been going off there, what was it like working with her on that?

Two Feet: Honestly it was super quick, I invited her to come out on my spring tour and she was like, “Hey, I have this song I think you would sound really good on.” Then they sent me the stems for Ableton and I just recorded it in two hours the next day.



And when you are recording songs, how does that recording process take place? Do you have a home studio?

Two Feet: Yeah, I have a home studio where I tend to do everything, this time however it actually happened at Mission Studios, which is my favourite studio in Brooklyn, it’s very close to where I live. But for my album for example, I recorded everything in my home studio.

Awesome to think that you are going to be reunited with UPSAHL soon on your upcoming Pink Tour. What can fans expect from that tour?

Two Feet: So the last time I toured extensively was in 2018, so they can expect a completely brand new show; we added a drummer who is in my opinion one of the best drummers I’ve ever heard, and brings a lot to the live show. Basically, we scaled up the production immensely, it’s a just completely different show, unlike anything I’ve ever done before.

Two Feet © Republic Records

Two Feet © Republic Records



So I imagine the record is the inspiration and the main launchpad for the tour, and it’s an incredible record btw. What was the writing process behind it?

Two Feet: Well, honestly it was a little disjointed. I came up with the theme of the album which was basically heavy orchestral guitars, but it was not like the traditional album process where you take 6 months off and rent a studio and do the whole album in the course of that. I kind of did it in small sections because I was touring in between, so overall from writing the first song of the album, which was actually “Pink”, to finishing the album took me probably 16 months.

Wow that’s actually a surprisingly long amount of time, did you initially set out to write the album or did you just end up accidentally stockpiling a ton of songs and then turning them into an album?

Two Feet: It was a thought-out process, I had the general theme for it from the first song, the reason it took so long is I had several supporting tours, and then I would go on festival runs in the summer, so basically touring kind of extended how long it took to write this album.

This is your first album ever; when you were writing it and kind of planning the whole thing did you feel a lot of pressure or did it come together naturally?

Two Feet: Yeah, it did not come together naturally! Of course some of the songs I wrote really quickly, like “Pink” and “You?” and “BBY”, but a lot of the other ones took a lot of head-banging against the wall to get right.



When you say ‘trying to get the songs right’, are you talking from like a production standpoint or the actual songwriting itself? What do you spend the most time on?

Two Feet: Songwriting comes to me pretty naturally, for whatever reason it’s really easy for me to sit with a guitar or the piano to write a song. The production, however, is always something that I have to spend a lot of time on, so that’s what takes the most time with my music.

You mentioned that electric guitar is such an integral part of your sound, so as a guitarist myself I was always curious about how you write all the guitar parts; is it improvisation-based or do you come up with the melodies ahead of time? How do you approach writing for guitar?

Two Feet: I would say about 20% of the time the melodies are in my head and I just lay them down, and then 80% of the time I improvise, record it, and pick parts that I like and keep those.

Are there any artists or guitarists that inspired you towards the beginning of your musical journey?

Two Feet: Yeah, Pink Floyd and Clapton were pretty influential for me as a kid, I never really got into metal music or anything of the sort; I was more into rock and stuff like that.

I actually became aware of your music thanks to your breakout single “Go Fuck Yourself” in 2016; a mate showed that to me and I was like, “I’m going to check this guy out”, and ever since then I always wanted to ask: why did you name the track that?

Two Feet: (laughs) Honestly, the real reason for that was that the name came out of intense frustration. I was working as a cashier and I had been living in a shitty little apartment for 3 years. I made beats for random rappers and RnB artists in NYC and usually made like $200 per beat. Producing music was kind of a side gig for me initially. When I wrote go “Go Fuck Yourself” I didn’t think much about it, just because of the sheer anger and frustration I was feeling at the time, I was just like, I’m going to make “Go Fuck Yourself” because fuck everybody right now.



That’s a really interesting point in terms of how all the songs on the record come obviously from such a personal place as well. Is being vulnerable through your music something that comes naturally or is it something you’ve had to work on?

Two Feet: That’s actually a difficult question, the best thing I can say to that is that some days you write stupid average lyrics and then other days it comes naturally – it just pours out of you in a really honest way, it just totally depends on your emotional status at that time.

So we talked about your inspirations just a moment ago, but do you have any advice for artists that want to release music and see you as an inspiration for their art?

Two Feet: I guess if you have me as an inspiration try to not pay attention or be “part of the now”. By “part of the now” I just mean the sound that’s currently popular. If you chase that as soon as what’s popular changes you will have to follow it or disappear. Doing what you like and ignoring the rest is a better career path. If you listen to Spotify, 90% of the songs sound exactly the same to me, they have the same kind of melodic rap vocals and the same type of beats, and the same 808 bass. And I have done that for years and then I kind of said, “fuck it I’m about to grow up soon,” so I guess that’s my advice. You can take inspiration or some influence from modern music, but just be yourself and make whatever you want to hear.

Do you have a favorite song off the record?

Two Feet: Yeah, I have two favourite songs that are “I Can’t Relate” and then I think my favourite banger is “Felt Like Playing Guitar And Not Singing Pt. 2”. I just really like the energy of that song and we have a lot of fun playing it live too.



Finally for the last question: I heard this asked by another interviewer once and thought it was such a great question so I’m totally going to steal it. What is one question you wish people would ask you in interviews but they don’t?

Two Feet: Oh wow! (Laughs). Let me think for a second, I guess I wished people asked me a bit more about the development of the live show, but I rarely get that question. That’s a question I wished people asked more because it’s been an insane journey over the past three years. It was initially kind of a bad live show, where I would finish a song for example and no-one would clap, and we turned that to what it is now, which is totally different. In the past year and a half, the development of our live show has definitely been my proudest achievement.

And do you think that whole improvement and evolution in the live set is something that has come from continual practice or becoming tighter as a band? What do you attribute to the show going to a whole new level?

Two Feet: Both of the things you just said I definitely agree with, but a lot of it is also the process of just thinking, the way we’re setting up our sound system, how we mix it and everything like that, it took like thousands and thousands of hours to get it the way it sounds now, and I genuinely think we’ve built one of the best live sets in the world. No one has seen it yet except for a few audiences in Europe and some festivals, but I have yet to really tour with this live set so I’m super excited.



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:: stream/purchase Pink here ::

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Pink - Two Feet

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📸 © Republic Records

Pink

an album by Two Feet